Two Southern California men were sentenced last week to 60 months each in prison for attempting to defraud nearly 1,000 debit and credit card holders by using stolen bank account information to withdraw money from Automated Teller Machines (ATMs).
The defendants, Eduard Arakelyan, 21, and Arman Vardanyan, 23, were sentenced in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California in Oakland. Using credit card-like cards re-encoded with financial and personal information, the defendants admitted that around July 2011 they used the cards to try to withdraw money form Northern California ATMs.
The fraud was part of a larger scheme in which separate individuals, using fake data skimming technology, had stolen financial information from point-of-sale and PIN-entry devices at up to 84 Michaels craft stores. After the breach, financial institutions reported tens of thousands of incidents of fraudulent activity linked to customers who had visited the stores, according to a Justice Department statement.
The defendants received 36 months in prison on bank fraud and conspiracy charges and 24 months for identity theft. In addition, upon release from prison, Arakelyan and Vardanyan were ordered to serve five years of supervised release and to pay $42,043 in restitution. The defendants pled guilty to the crimes on March 20th.
The investigation was conducted by the U.S. Secret Service San Francisco field office and the Pleasant Hill, CA, police department, with assistance from the U.S. Secret Service Los Angeles and Chicago field offices, and the Glendale, CA, police department.
Photo by Flickr/Andres Rueda